Texas is home to about half of the feral pigs found in the United States, and these pests are impacting the state in a variety of different ways. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
"Crop damage. You could have damage due to equipment. You could have animal losses. Wetlands. Some of our sensitive areas are very, very slow to respond to such damages that can be caused by feral pigs."
Aaron Sumrall is a Agrilife Extension county agent in San Jacinto County says losses aren’t restricted to rural interests. Homeowners have had entire landscapes ruined.
"It could be a huge problem for anybody, and as we encroach into their traditional habitat types, we're going to see an escalated wildlife interface issue with feral pigs."
Population estimates in Texas vary.
"Regardless if it's a million or two and a half million, if it's $200 estimated damage per head per year, it doesn't take a lot of pencil work there to figure out that's a pretty astronomical number."
Currently the only management alternative is the ongoing removal of animals from a growing population.
"The reproductive potential of a feral pig is multiple litters within a 15 to 18 month period, and the survivability of those offspring is somewhere between 4 and 6 piglets per litter.
Whenever you get to that age of weaning, many of the natural predators that are out there are gone. One of the few predators that that mature wild pig has is the landowner."
A population explosion of one species can produce problems for other animals.
"Their reproductive efficiency is going to effect the reproductive efficiencies of other wildlife and domestic populations in the area."
And Sumrall says there are two types of people in Texas.
"Those that have feral pigs and those that will have feral pigs."
Currently A&M’s Vet School is working on a species-specific reproductive inhibitor that could be put out in a bait form, but it won’t be ready for use anytime soon. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.